'No clean water to wash hands,' say Hammanskraal residents

Water shortages have made it difficult for Hammanskraal residents to follow advice from authorities to wash hands regularly as safety measure against the spread of coronavirus.

The area, situated north of Pretoria, relies on water delivered by water trucks after the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found in July that tap water in the area was not safe for human consumption.

However, several areas have not had water delivered for two weeks, making it difficult for residents to constantly wash hands in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Joyce Moshoeshoe, 77, who lives with her granddaughter in Temba's Unit 2, told Sowetan yesterday she had given up on trying anything to avoid contacting the coronavirus.

"We've had two weeks now without any truck coming to deliver water, what do we do? We are now forced to use the very same unclean tap water to wash our hands," Moshoeshoe said.

She was forced to use her pension grant money to buy 10 litres of bottled water for drinking purposes and cannot afford to use that water to constantly wash her hands.

"Here in Temba, we unfortunately don't have a choice as we don't even have those sanitisers or disinfectants that rich people use," she said.

Her neighbour, Dampie Raphela, said even though they were well aware that their tap water was not of good quality, that's all they have.

"We know we have to wash our hands as often as we can, but the question is what are we washing our hands with?

We do use bar soaps or dishwashing liquids with the dirty water coming out of our taps," Raphela said.

Another local, Zodwa Shongwe, 61, said: "I'm very scared of dying, so I constantly wash my hands even though I don't have access to clean water."

When approached for comment yesterday, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu's spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: "In light of what the president announced [regarding the coronavirus], the minister is going to look into all the areas that have a difficulty with access to water."

The area falls under the Tshwane metro which was ordered by the human rights commission last year to deliver clean water in trucks to people of Hammanskraal.

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